Life Without Children, Part 2: Making the Decision

I introduced you to Libby and Ethan last week. And, didn’t you love Libby’s insights? This week, with Libby’s permission, I am sharing a few of her posts from her website, Childless Mormons. If you want to read ahead, you can visit her site and enjoy every last morsel. Or, you can wait for the installments over the next few days. I hope that you find inspiration, insight, understanding, and perhaps a new perspective on infertility and choosing “child-free” living.

 

Libby & Ethan S.
West Lafayette, Indiana

Making the Decision
by Libby S.
(originally posted here on July 7, 2010)

My husband and I have chosen to be childless in that we consciously decided to #1 stop fertility treatments and #2 close our adoption file. Did I try to have children? Yes–for nine long years. Am I trying to have children now? No, not at all. This decision may seem irrational or ironic to those who have not experienced infertility for a long amount of time. When deciding whether or not to choose childlessness, my husband and I spoke with a trusted advisor, who simply couldn’t understand why this is something we needed to decide. Why didn’t we exhaust all our resources first? Why didn’t we wait until I was out of my “fertile years”? (Did I ever have fertile years?) I don’t know why exactly I needed to make this decision; I just knew I needed to make it. I felt that my life had been on hold for too long, and it was taking its toll on me. Even though I was continuing my education, working part-time, and serving actively in the church, balance was actually never possible as long as I was trying to become a mother. Hoping to become pregnant at any moment, or hoping for a birthmom contact, constantly occupied my mind and heart. It’s something I thought about daily. I was always looking forward to when I would have children, never finding complete satisfaction in my present condition. My personal growth was being stymied as long as I was trying to become a mother.

As I researched more about moving from infertility to childlessness, I learned that I wasn’t alone in my need to make a firm decision to accept a childless life.┬áCaroline from More to Life shares the following as part of
her coping strategies: “My advice would be that, unless you make an active decision to close the present chapter of your life, it will be very difficult to mourn the bereavement of infertility and move on. Ridiculous though it seems, this may mean actively taking steps against becoming pregnant and writing down, somewhere, the date of your decision to move on. My experience is that just abandoning treatment is not enough because, at the back of the mind, a tiny hope lives on well into the forties that a miracle baby may come along naturally and this tiny hope blocks the mourning and moving-on processes.” She recommends perhaps having a ceremony or other event that marks the decision.

From Day #1, I knew this was my decision. I knew I could seek more treatments or keep trying to adopt, but I decided not to. Why? Because I knew it wasn’t the Lord’s will. He wanted me to make the decision to move on. He knew I was finally ready for it. Never before had the Lord’s will been so clearly laid out to me. That, and for so many other emotional, spiritual, and physical reasons, we decided to no longer pursue parenthood. Immediately upon making the decision, I felt liberated. It was as if a burden had been taken off my shoulders, similar to the backpack full of bricks analogy used when discussing repentance. Here was a trial I had faced for so many years, and now it was gone. I could finally just accept my life rather than constantly hoping for something different.

That trial ended, but another one immediately began. I had no idea it would be so difficult to come to terms with my decision. Even though I’ve felt greater peace about my path than ever before, I’ve also spent the last several months dealing with depression, anxiety, and loneliness more than I’d ever experienced before. The Lord, however, has given me the strength and guidance to know how to move on. He’s helped me readjust my life, reassess my priorities, and seek growth in the ways I need it most. To outsiders, my life may not seem different. I’m still in school, still teaching, still married, and still childless. What’s the difference? Well, I am different. My goals and priorities are different. My approach to happiness is different. My understanding of myself is different. My level of comfort around others is different. I could handle being around kids and parents when I thought that any day I’d be like one of them. Now, I’m accepting my life. Finally, I am learning to be who I really am rather than seeking to be part of an unattainable dream. So, yes, to some my life doesn’t seem like it’s changed, but to me, I have truly started a new life and become a new person. Other than deciding to marry my husband, this is the best decision I feel I’ve ever made. And the future only looks brighter.

Are you struggling to know if you should “make the decision”? Are you at a crossroads in your attempts to have children? Have you made the decision to be childless but find it difficult to explain it to others? Know that you’re not alone. Make sure this decision truly is right for you. Once you’ve done that, move forward with all your might. For more information about making the decision to accept childless living rather than remain stuck in infertility, read Sweet Grapes by Jean and Michael Carter.

 

 

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  • Amanda

    I read Libby’s blog a few months ago and fell in love we it. This is what I told her.

    This is so true. My husband and I tried for over eight years to adopt and we tried other avenues also. I had always told myself I’ll give it until I’m 30. Well 30 came and no children. I’m so glad I set that time limit. For my 30th birthday my family helped me throw myself a new phase of life party. I still went through the grieving process and pulled away from friends having babies for a little bit, but that party was the first step in one of the best decisions in my life. I am now 32 and life is wonderful! My husband and I enjoy just being us and all the benefits that go with it. We no longer look at couples with children and wish we were them. We can smile and enjoy that fact that we are free to come and go as we please. I never thought I could be in such a peaceful place about being childless, but I am so thankful for my Heavenly Fathers love and the knowledge that I have that all things come in His time and not ours, but that we must make the most of what we are given. Thank you for putting into words what I could not express. I have shared this with my friends and family in hopes of helping them to understand where I have been and where I am heading. You put it perfectly! Thank You.

    I would also like to say how thankful I am to have found ldsinfertility.org. It is so nice to know that their are people out there who understand and want to help others become more aware of this issue. I hope that I will be able to help in my own little way.

     
     
     
    • I love what you have said, Amanda!! I love how you had a “new phase of life party”…closing one door and opening the door of opportunity before you. I am sure it was a great way to heal and have closure! It is wonderful to hear the successes of women who have made these difficult decisions with confident and complete faith. The hope and confidence in your “voice” is both encouraging and inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

       
  • I have LOVED reading her insights. I’m glad I don’t feel alone in making these kinds of decisions. If we repeat IVF again and it still doesn’t work, I know that I will have to come to terms with being childless, but I also know that I will live a happy life, just the two of us. I have wondered if it is a selfish thing to choose not to adopt. These posts have brought me some comfort. Thank you Libby!

     
     
     
  • This has been very insightful to read (I’m coming back to read #2 after reading #3). It is another evidence that the Lord’s hand is in our lives fully and completely and very individually.
    It was also interesting to notice my own feelings as I read this post. I feel honored to know people who have made the choice to be child free and are leading full and happy lives today; I also understand that in my own circumstance I may be on the side of holding out hope until I die, and that is okay, too. I admire all women whose courage and faith lead them to a sense of freedom and peace, and while I cannot fully comprehend a decision like this, I do respect it and appreciate the perspective and wisdom that it provides. Thank you for sharing.

     
     
     
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